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Lost in translation: HMO enrollees with poor health have hardest time communicating with doctors
Date:2/28/2013

rs conclude that it is too soon to know if these laws have been effective in spurring HMOs to assess the language needs of their enrollees, develop plans for the provision of free language services, and require physicians, clinics and hospitals to provide the services necessary.

There is data to suggest that many medical providers continue to rely on non-professionals, such as family members or untrained staff, to supply interpretation services. Despite the efforts of health plans to identify and plan for LEP patients and the potential for providers to use trained bilingual staff and outside interpreting agencies, more than 40 percent of LEP enrollees in commercial HMOs who needed help to understand their doctor reported receiving assistance from a non-professional.

"One of the problems with planning for and providing effective interpreter services for our LEP population in California is the lack of consistent training of interpreters," said Dylan Roby, lead investigator on the study and director of the Center's Health Economics and Evaluation Research Program. "Although health plans are required to assess the language needs of their members and develop a plan to address them, there is quite a bit of variation in how they do so and who is expected to provide interpretation to patients at the bedside or during a visit."

The authors recommend that in addition to monitoring and aggressively targeting patients in poor health to enhance the level of communication, HMOs and providers should work with regulators to assess the changing language needs of their members, modify their plans and policies to more appropriately meeti these needs, and ensure that physicians, clinics and hospitals can deploy effective translation and interpreter services.


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Contact: Gwen Driscoll
gdriscoll@ucla.edu
310-794-0930
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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